IELTS: Sisyphus as metaphor

10th May 2022

Last week I held an IELTS Speaking Test. Only one student hit 7.5 although, in fairness, I was probably on the generous side in awarding the student such an admirable score.

Or, to be precise, learn from their mistakes.

I can break them down into three main areas:

coherence

vocabulary

complex sentences

Kicking off with coherence; it doesn’t matter how fluent you are, unless you answer the question, you will loose marks.

The test allows us to assess your understanding of both question and task. An example: one question was

What is the most popular activity in your country ?

ASIDE: I’ve told students until I’m blue in the face, never repeat, “In (my) country,” but since when do teenage students ever actually listen ?

The question asks for ONE activity; several students talked about two or three. This is not answering the question.

Anyone who’s studied at University will know how imperative it is to follow instructions.

COMIC RELIEF: One student, from a previous test, replied that the most common activity, “In my country,” was brushing teeth, and that foreigners do this every day, but Vietnamese only do this once or twice a week. Said student had to continue for two minutes. Needless to say, there were no flying colours.

More disturbing was the lack of IELTS vocabulary. You have been told time and again what that means, and I can’t keep hitting my head against a brick wall.

And so to work … get out your notebooks (those that actually bother bringing notebooks to class), look up previous lessons and write down:

TEN L-FWs

FIVE less common idioms

FIVE everyday expressions

TEN phrasal verbs

TEN basic collocations

I have taught you these ad infinitum. If you are struggling with this exercise, you will probably only get a 5 for the Lexical Recourses section.

Lastly, the old chestnut, complex sentences.

I had nine students, each with about ten minutes of speaking time. How many complex sentences do you think I heard ?

Yes, Steve …
That’s right … ZERO

EXERCISES: Use at least two L-FWs, one idiom and other IELTS elements

(and if you think it’s funny to ask what I mean, after all this time, by ‘IELTS elements’, just get up and leave the class).

Speak for one minute about:

one of your cousins // your favourite gift // sports // your best memory from childhood // best films // problems in your city // typical local food.

Part Two: Critical Thinking

“Oh, teacher, I’m tired and feel lazy.”

Work in teams. Watch the following short clip about the ancient Greek king, Sisyphus:

Characters from Greek and Roman mythology permeate western culture, and references and allusions are ubiquitous.

You may watch the video again, writing down new words. There is a lot of background (in which you may encounter a character from ‘The Avengers’ movies), but the main feature starts around the 4:00 mark.

Your task is to relate this story to modern life. Choose a person you know, or something from your own experience. You may even project your thoughts about the future, once you have left education and joined the workforce.

To assist you, some pertinent L-FWs and idioms:

futile (adj) futility (noun) / absurd / pointless / meaningless / contemptable / repetitive / a metaphor

a total waste of time / flogging a dead horse

sick to the back teeth / day in, day out

cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

talking until (pronoun) blue in the face / the grind

putting an old head on young shoulders

Look up the meanings yourself. Your teacher won’t be with you to give you the answers in life. Think for yourself.

Athene, Goddess of wisdom

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: hometowns & neighbourhoods. Speaking Test Part Two practice.

4th April 2022

Some London neighbourhoods

A typical, run of the mill IELTS question will be about your hometown or about your neighbourhood.

N.B. neighbourhood means the area in which you live; neighbours are the people living next or close to you.

First, some new vocabulary. I will expect you to learn these, to have them down pat:

gritty / industrial

quite / safe / residential

boring / peaceful / suburban

bustling / vibrant / city centre / lively / a happening place

apparently – something you believe to be true

conversely – the opposite, on the other hand, however

actually – saying something that is surprising or is the truth

New idioms

bear with me – please wait a very short time

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, unusual, boring

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

NOW … your turn

Tell me about your neighbourhood

Remember, give me a great introduction, have a positive point, a negative point and a short conclusion. You should be able to speak for two minutes without pause or repetition

Tips: Use some of the adjectives listed above to describe the area.

Say what amenities you have close by; shops, restaurants, entertainment, transport links etc.

Try to tell an anecdote – a short true story about something that happened to you.

Real estate news: Outstanding Housing Projects Of Kien A Investors
An apartment block in the Cat Lai area of Sai Gon. Artist’s impression.
HCM city aims to reduce seaport traffic jams
The reality of living in Cat Lai, one of the busiest ports in south east Asia

Well, that question is a bit of a sore point with me because I live in a terribly noisy gritty industrial area. My apartment is near the Cat Lai port which is one of the busiest in Vietnam. Consequently, we have containers driving past, day and night which, as you can imagine, creates so much pollution.

However, allow me to talk about the good points. Firstly, it is significantly cheaper than, say, District 1 or 3, as it is quite far from the centre. The shops also tend to be on the cheap side. Additionally we have some street markets where I can pick up some very cheap food and fresh fish. We are well-served with several convenience stores although, in my opinion, Family Mart charges an arm and a leg.

Conversely, my friends avoid visiting me because it is so dangerous to ride a motorbike here, we really take our lives in our hands every time we go out. Furthermore, I love fresh air so I open my windows, but I have to dust and clean every day because so much dirt accumulates. Finally, we have open-air karaoke nearly every night and street wedding parties most weekends which means loud and terrible singing. It’s like a madhouse, I really detest this horrible noise.

I am lucky with my neighbours, who are all so friendly, and the apartment is really spacious. Having said that, the area is so bad that as soon as possible, I will leave and find somewhere cleaner and safer.

Landmark 81 in Sai Gon

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Talking Pictures. Describe a favourite film

16th March 2022

Zhang Zihi in the visually stunning film ‘Hero’
Exquisite cinematography in ‘Raise The Red Lantern’ with Gong Li

A typical IELTS question

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

The film I would choose is ‘Lost In Translation‘ starring Scarlett Johannsson

STRUCTURE:

Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately

Organised structure – one point per paragraph

A change of attitude – a critical view

Short conclusion

LOOK OUR FOR

Low-frequency words

Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.

Discourse markers – words to link ideas together

Adverbs and less common adjectives

So, without further ado, the question:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

First paragraph. Information about the film and the main characters.

The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.

Second paragraph. The plot: what happens and why.

Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.

Third paragraph. Develop the plot.

They meet in the hotel where, age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together, hook up. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.

Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.

Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be somewhat disappointed by this love story that never happens. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day. The film is quite melancholic as we are left to wonder what might have been.

Conclusion: A short summary.

‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming albeit bitter-sweet movie.

An iconic shot from the opening of the film

NOW … YOUR TURN

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION !

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Discourse Markers

18th February 2022

Image from lisalarter.com

By using discourse markers, students will be able to link their ideas together as well as increasing their fluency. Consequently speaking for two minutes without pauses or hesitation will be a piece of cake.

There is a great list on another blog: https://aliciateacher2.wordpress.com/grammar/discourse-markers/

I recommend students learn at least two from each section

Using discourse markers: I give teams two words which they have to incorporate into a short passage.

EXAMPLE:therefore‘ and ‘subsequently

The class had an extremely important speaking test, therefore they should have studied hard. One student preferred to play video games all night. Subsequently, he failed the exam and his mother, who is a real tiger mum, was absolutely furious.

Image from ucanr.edu

having said that & furthermore

moreover & consequently

initially & eventually

likewise & specifically

meanwhile & notwithstanding

on the whole & instead

Using discourse markers to tell a story

An exercise where students have to relate a story based on several photos may be found on this previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/01/06/ielts-4-5-speaking-class/

See you next week

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Let’s get complex

7th February 2022

KEEP CALM BACK TO LIFE BACK TO REALITY Poster | | Keep Calm-o-Matic

Indeed, this week the language schools reopen in Sai Gon after an incredibly long break due to the COVID pandemic.

Furthermore, Tet Holiday has just finished so time to put your noses to the grindstone and get back to work.

Thus, some warm up games to practise using complex sentences.

Asian Community Fund
Photo from tbf.org

First up, tell me about a member of your family using a relative pronoun for a subordinate clause. This means, in a nutshell, adding extra information about a subject.

EXAMPLE:

My uncle lives in Singapore.

My uncle, who is a doctor, lives in Singapore.

My uncle, who is a doctor and works at a private clinic which is extremely expensive, lives in Singapore.

My uncle, who lives in Singapore, is a doctor and works at a private clinic which is extremely expensive.

If you want to pass IELTS with flying colours, and why wouldn’t you, forming complex sentences is imperative. After all, if you don’t employ such sentences, you will not get high marks for grammatical range and accuracy.

So what are you waiting for ? I give you two minutes … Go !

Vocabulary Bank

Premium Photo | Close-up of handsome drunk guy in suit
My cousin is always the life and soul of a party. However, he drinks like a fish ! freepic.com

Expressions to help you give more colour and complexity to your answers:

Positive

a heart of gold (My mother has a heart of gold)

firm but fair

life and soul of the party

a little angel / is as good as gold

he looks out for me / he has my back

never has a bad word to say about anybody

is a good sport

Negative

a real tiger mum

won’t listen to reason

is a bit of a wallflower

is a little devil / looks like butter wouldn’t melt in (his or her) mouth

drinks like a fish

is a real prima donna

is very touchy, can’t take a joke

1,359 Angry Mexican Woman Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images -  iStock
My aunt, who lives in Mexico, is very touchy. She can’t take a joke.

For Top Cats: look at these pictures and give me astounding, jaw-droppingly brilliant complex sentences. Because I have a heart of gold, allow me to offer an example.

Scootering classics: The Deep Six - Scootering Magazine
The Deep Six featuring my mate Pete, who is wearing a check shirt and glasses, on bass.

My close friend Pete, who lives in Birmingham which is the second biggest city in the UK, plays bass guitar in a band called The Deep Six. Pete, who is a good sport, never has a bad word to say about anyone, in fact he always looks out for me when I go to visit him because my London accent makes me stand out. However, and I’m sure he won’t mind me spilling the beans, he enjoys a beer or two. To be honest, he drinks like a fish although he can still play which I find truly amazing. Cheers, Pete, keep on rocking.

Piece of cake, yeah ? OK, impress me. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination … GO !

dreamstime.com
Free Photo | Surprised middle-aged man wearing green t-shirt showing peace  gesture isolated on olive green wall
freepik.com
Free Photo | Portrait of young asian lady smiling with cheerful expression,  shows something amazing at blank space in casual clothing and looking at  camera isolated over blue background. facial expression concept.
freepik.com
GrabBike Việt Nam: Giám đốc sáng lập Grab Việt Nam Nguyễn Tuấn Anh trải  lòng về cơ duyên với Grab | VietnamFinance
vietfinance.vn
Reading in Personal and Professional Life | Medline Blog
medline.eu
Premium Photo | Arab man is drinking coffee in a cafe.
freepik.com

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Mini-lesson review

11th January 2022

Tricot | Wiki | Asian Music Amino

The photo shows Tricot who are a Japanese rock band. The band, who sing in Japanese, are very talented. I would love to see them. Furthermore, I really wish to visit Japan although hotels in Tokyo cost an arm and a leg.

Let’s review the idioms and vocabulary covered in our first lessons. Let’s kick off with:

Basic idioms:

it’s raining cats and dogs

it costs an arm and a leg

piece of cake

I’m burning the candle at both ends

once in a blue moon

pass with flying colours

turn over a new leaf

put your nose to the grindstone

IELTS - Tôi tự học!: [IDIOMS] : " It's raining cats and dogs"

Let’s put it to the test – what idioms would you use ?

It’s no problem at all, it’s a __________

She needs to get a high score, I want her to ______

I must be more serious about learning piano. I have to _______

The iPhone X is very expensive, it _______

You need to stop going out every night and missing school. You need to _____________

She dances all day, then sings all night; she’s _________________

Bring an umbrella if you go to the UK, it’s always ____________

Ms Anna simply adores Chanel perfume however, because it _____________ , she only wears it __________________________________.

Relative Pronouns

Happy African Girl Studying In... - Stock Photos | Motion Array

This lady, who wants to work in London, is studying hard for her IELTS.

who for people:

This is the man who helped me to learn German. 

which for things:

We tried fish and chips which is delicious.

where for places:

Let’s go to the shop where we saw the great bargains.

Whose possessive:

That’s Tricot, the band whose record we heard last night.

TRICOT discography and reviews

Endgame

Can you remember, what word means ‘everywhere’ ?

Can you give me an example ?

Instead of saying, “I think,” you could say … ?

Again, please give me an example.

The Talmud: Why has a Jewish law book become so popular? - BBC News

Middle Age Arabic Couple, Woman And Man Serious Face Thinking About  Question, Very Confused Idea Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image.  Image 104957805.

Answers

Ubiquitous:

In Sai Gon, which is the largest city in Viet Nam, coffee shops are ubiquitous.

Motorbikes are ubiquitous in Viet Nam.

Fast food shops are ubiquitous in the USA.

In my opinion

In my opinion, learning English is incredibly important.

Sai Gon, in my opinion, is the best city in Viet Nam.

In my opinion Tricot are absolutely amazing.

10 Useful Ways to Say Goodbye in Japanese | FluentU Japanese
Goodbye, see you next class

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS Mindset 1, lesson 6 Review

21st April 2021

Today is Hung King Festival, a free day in Viet Nam

Hung King Festival | All about Hung King Temple Festival 2021
Hung King Festival (Kings’ Day) Viet Nam (Google Images)

“The holiday is dedicated to the memory of the Hung line of kings who ruled Vietnam as priestly kings for over 2,500 years up until around 250 B.C. These kings are counted as the nation’s ancient founders.” Read more on:

https://publicholidays.vn/hung-kings-commemoration-day/

New Vocabulary

Cheap as chips … very inexpensive (UK expression)

Elaborate (verb) … tell more, expand on your answer

Significant (adj) significance (noun) significantly (adv) … very important or different from the rest. Special, notable.

Simile … to compare something e.g. he drinks like a fish, she eats like a pig, our campus is like a bloody madhouse.

White collar job … professional, desk job or requires mental skills e.g. lawyer, doctor, office worker, teacher

Blue collar job … manual work, although these jobs can also need a professional qualification, and can be extremely well-paid.

May be an image of 4 people and people smiling
Good old boys from Atlanta, Georgia back in the day. Three have blue collar jobs, one is white collar … can you guess which ?

Now, on with the show. Last night was based around the typical IELTS question, “Tell me about your family,” and its derivatives. I tell classes until I’m blue in the face, just saying, “I live with my mum, my dad and my sister,” is not a great IELTS answer, not to mention being tedious in the extreme.

The students mulled it over and came up with the reasonable response that there really was nothing else to say. Au contraire (on the contrary) there is so much to say, and every journey, as my Duchess knows, starts with a single step to wit, a great introduction.

The students, somewhat perplexed, offered:

Well, I don’t know how to give an interesting answer because I just live with my mum, dad and brother …

Even that would qualify as an introduction, but how about:

Allow me to introduce my family to you. Firstly there is …

Here’s where relative clauses really come into their own. Basically, every time you mention a subject, a noun, elaborate; tell the examiner more about said subject.

May be an image of 3 people
Hold your horses, Thay Paul. Will you give me an example ? Photo in Manila.

Oh, you know I will. Let’s start with the matriarch, Mommie dearest. You could say:

My mother has a heart of gold

…then explain why

… she’s always thinking of other people before herself, as well as listening to all my problems and trying to help me with everything.

On the other hand, your mother may want you to excel at everything …

Although I love her dearly, my mother is what they call a Tiger Mum by which I mean she always makes me study, do homework and learn piano. I really burn the candle at both ends and sometimes it can be too much for me.

Now, let’s turn to pater, Daddy;

My father, on the other hand, is firm but fair …

My father has a white collar job. He works long hours to provide for his family, he really has his nose to the grindstone …

He’s a little loud and on holidays, he loves singing karaoke with his friends, who are all blue collar workers, and he drinks like a fish.

Now, a borrowed word to describe sister …

My sister, who is younger than me, is such a prima donna, always (doing what ?) …

Conversely:

My sister is so sweet, she’s like a little angel, and she loves playing with our puppy who is just six weeks old.

How about brother ?

My brother really looks out for me, giving me advice and guidance. I totally look up to him.

On the other hand …

My brother is an absolute slacker, lazy beyond belief. He never helps in the house, or cleans his room. He does his homework once in a blue moon, preferring to play stupid computer games instead.

How was that ? Happy now ?

No photo description available.
Yes, that’s a great help, Khob khun (khap/ka). Two Thai friends in London.

Now … Your Turn

Last night you encountered these adjectives and occupations:

aggressive / arrogant / calm / funny (haha) / funny (crazy) / generous / honest / humorous / kind / mean / modest / polite / quiet / reliable / rude / selfish / serious / thoughtless / trustworthy /

estate agent / plumber / DJ / mechanic / bouncer / surgeon / accountant / actor / cook or chef / removal man / insurance agent / bank clerk / detective / businessperson / barista / lawyer / slacker shop manager / unemployed /

Exercise 1: Write and then present your own IELTS-style answer to the question, “Tell me who you live with ?” Use new words as well as your own ideas.

Here’s some help, should you require it:

Allow me to introduce my family to you. Firstly there is my mother who … (where is she from OR what is her job OR what is she like, by which I mean physically or in terms of personality ?).

My father, on the other hand, is …

As for my younger sister, I worry about her because she …

Now, let’s mix it up a little … say you live with an aunt, a grandparent, a cousin … impress me; I know you can do it.

For more about introductions, check out this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/28/ielts-please-allow-me-to-introduce-myself/

For last night’s lesson blog, click here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/04/20/ielts-mindset-1-lesson-6-speaking-speaking-and-more-speaking/

See you next week

Hung King Festival | All about Hung King Temple Festival 2021
Google images

IELTS Mindset 1, Lesson 6. Speaking, speaking and more speaking

20th April 2021

May be an image of 2 people
OK ? Let’s go !

Tonight’s lesson will focus on speaking, so I’ve shuffled through my memory and come up with some blogs which should prove extremely useful.

However, we shall kick off with a review from last week’s lesson: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/04/14/ielts-mindset-1-lesson-5-review/

Followed by a game. I shall show photos of five of my friends, along with some personality adjectives and occupations. The class simply have to guess my friends’ job and what kind of people they are … and justify their decisions.

A link to that blog may be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/28/friends-men-teaching-sheet/

Moving on, a blog designed to help students expand their answers and form great introductions: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/28/ielts-please-allow-me-to-introduce-myself/

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Take it easy ! See you next week.

Mindset 2, Lesson 1: Say it, feel it, ace it !

15th April 2021

May be an image of 2 people
Are you ready for Level 2 ? All right, let’s hit the books !

First up, new and familiar idioms:

it costs an arm and a leg

piece of cake

I’m burning the candle at both ends

once in a blue moon

pass with flying colours

turn over a new leaf

it’s raining cats and dogs

Another string to (your) bow – a new skill or learning experience

bear with me – please wait a very short time (usually spoken as opposed to written)

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

down in the dumps – depressed, unhappy, feeling gloomy

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

up in arms – to be very angry about something, to protest strongly

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

NOW … your turn … what idioms fits ?

Lunatics Paradise: Australia's Renewables Fiasco Like Living in a Madhouse  – STOP THESE THINGS

At breaktimes, all the younglings come pouring out of their classes, screaming their little heads off …

it’s ___________________________________

Students protest against tuition fees - BBC News

Students are unhappy about tuition fees

They are _____________

You still can!': Music teacher champions adult students learning violin

She can speak five languages, do karate and is now learning violin

She has added __________________________

Yawning Girl Reading A Boring Book Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free  Image. Image 19559231.

She thought the novel would be extremely exciting.

Unfortunately, for her, it’s just a ___________________ story.

Street Photography in Austin - Assignment Chicago

Some areas of downtown are no-go areas.

You really _________________________________________ if you go after dark and alone.

buster-keaton-396846_640

Poor Buster is so funny, yet he always looks _______________________

Oh, dear …

This beautiful young lady seems to be upset about something.

Angry woman screaming against her husband with his face deformed - eniGma  Magazine

Possibly something the man said is a ______________________ with her ?

Excited Motivated Multiracial Business Team Stock Footage Video (100%  Royalty-free) 1037298239 | Shutterstock

We’re going to have a tremendous success with our new product which we shall be launching in Europe, the US and parts of Asia.

We’re really going to ________________________________

Marcello Mastroianni

Excuse me, I have to take this call _______________________

Extra exercises may be found on this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/12/ielts-8-1-2-chasing-8-1-2/

IELTS students always need to concentrate on expanding their lexical resources. Having said that, I feel this class needs extra work on fluency and pronunciation. To that end, some exercises to assist:

Exercise 1: Just a minute. In pairs, one student has to speak for one minute without repetition, hesitation or deviation.

The subjects are: Your favourite gift // your neighbourhood // what you like about your city // shopping // your family

Exercise 2: Newsreader. Read the following extracts with appropriate pronunciation, intonation and stress, not forgetting body language.

Some stories are sombre (sad, solemn), others convey information that is somewhat depressing or raise concern. However, we end with some lighter entertainment gossip and football transfer speculation.

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II returned to royal duties just four days after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, with her first in-person event Tuesday.

The queen hosted a ceremony at Windsor Castle for William Peel, who retired after serving for 14 years as lord chamberlain, the most senior aide in the royal household.

A report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, or WTTC, has revealed the full extent of the damage done to the global travel industry in 2020 after business was devastated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Globally, the sector’s income slumped by almost $4.5 trillion last year. In 2019, travel and tourism was linked to one in four of all new jobs created around the world. But in 2020, more than 62 million jobs were lost.

HCMC – The Ministry of Health has confirmed 16 new imported Covid-19 cases in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Hanoi, Danang, Quang Nam and HCMC, taking the country’s tally to 2,733 as of tonight, April 14.

Five of the new cases were reported in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The patients, aged between 29 and 39, returned to Vietnam from Russia on Flight VN5062 on April 12. They were immediately transported to Ba Ria-Vung Tau for quarantine after arriving at the HCMC-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport. All of them are being treated at Long Dien District Medical Center.

Who is Hey Stephen by Taylor Swift about?

The song is about a crush Taylor had on Stephen Barker Liles, who’s in the band Love and Theft.

The two reportedly met in 2008 when his band was opening up for her on tour.

Speaking to Access Online, Taylor said: “The song is actually about a guy who I had a crush on and never told him.

“So I wrote everything that I was thinking down in the song instead of telling him.”

Manchester United are eager to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus – according to Sai Gon Post.

The Red Devils will consider an exchange deal that would see Paul Pogba return to Turin in order to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford this summer.

United are on course to receive a big payout for finishing in the Premier League’s top four again, and plan to put those funds towards the re-capture of a club legend.

See you next week

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Vietnam festival, London 2012 … it was raining cats and dogs !

IELTS Mindset 1, Lesson 2 Review

24th March 2021

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Photo by Thay Paul, Sai Gon

I took this photo on Nguyễn Huệ Street, which is in District 1, during Tet Holiday. As this is the biggest celebration in Viet Nam, the streets are bustling and vibrant, furthermore it is so uplifting seeing happy, smiling people. Many ladies simply adore dressing up in traditional Áo dài, dresses which are made from silk. In my opinion, these two friends look so beautiful although they tell me that their dresses, which cost an arm and a leg, can be terribly hot and uncomfortable. However they only wear them once in a blue moon. They were so happy when I took their photo as it will enable me to share some Vietnamese culture with the world.

A quick recap – we have encountered these words so far in our 1000 mile journey:

lingua franca / genre / obligatory / compulsory / uplifting

enable / bustling / vibrant / generated / derived from / enable / purchase (buy) / devour (eat or consume a lot)

utterly depressing / simply adore

Not forgetting our arsenal of idioms:

it’s raining cats and dogs

it costs an arm and a leg

piece of cake

I’m burning the candle at both ends

once in a blue moon

pass with flying colours

turn over a new leaf

put your nose to the grindstone

bear with me

kick the bucket

NOW … your turn

Write me a short IELTS-style piece (only three or four sentence) about Tet Holiday – what you do, what you eat, special traditions, personal stories … having said that … you have to include:

two idioms // at least two L-FWs // two adverbs // two great adjectives //

use of pronunciation features

Are you ready ? Yes, Sir !

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My adorable friend Hanna. Photo by Thay Paul, Ha Noi

Piece of cake, right ?

Quick fire quiz – what idioms could you use for ?

money, cost, prices // working or studying //

changing behaviour or bad habits // no problem

weather // something that happens very rarely

TOP 14 FRENCH CINEMA QUOTES | A-Z Quotes
World famous director Jean-Luc Godard

Speaking practice – work in pairs or small groups and ask each other about cinema – but – at IELTS standard. To wit, include:

Types of films you like (genre). Give examples.

Where you go or how you watch movies and why

Favourite actors or directors

REMEMBER – give as much information as you can – complex sentences, L-FWs, idioms; remember to speak fluently with discourse markers and, not forgetting, express your emotions in your voice.

Next Lesson, we shall assist Countess Dương in boosting her vocabulary, as well as focusing on listening to native speakers and endeavouring to imitate their speech patterns:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/06/ielts-be-industrious-hard-working-incredible-energetic-students/

If you have missed the first classes, catch up here –

Lesson 1: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/28/ielts-my-hometown/

The review for that lesson can be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/03/17/ielts-hitting-the-ground-running-an-introduction-to-idioms-for-a-new-class/

A special thanks to my sweet friend Ms Hanna for graciously allowing me to use her photo.

Goodbye, see you next week

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Goodbye from students in Ha Noi